Strahovski and Ann Dowd both do masterful work on this series, and a big part of their success comes from the fact that they play these monsters as people. Serena can be the woman who helped design and implement this nightmare; the woman who petulantly refuses to allow the birth mother of the baby she stole to breastfeed it, despite the fact that it’s the best thing for the daughter she claims to love; and a person who desperately wants to be a loving mother, to care for the baby in her arms, to give love to that child and to mourn the senseless death of another. She never lets us forget who Serena Joy is, but she also never plays her as merely a villain. Some of the world’s most dangerous monsters believe that they are good at heart. . . .
Part of what makes Whitford’s appearance on this show such an incredible breath of fresh air is that he, like Strahovski and Dowd, is playing layers upon layers. Every pause is loaded. Every sniffle carries weight. Every word cuts two ways. Even his eyebrows tell a piece of a bigger, more complicated story. Yet despite all the complexity, all the layers, he never lets you forget that this man is a threat, a nightmare. Joseph Fiennes has had great moments on this show—he was great, for example, in the big Waterford showdown last week—but I can think of no single scene in which he does half as much as Whitford. Compare only their silent reactions when they first see June and Emily in this episode. Whitford’s Commander is startled, stares, puzzles, takes the measure of, moves on, comes back. Layers on layers.
so we can learn how this economy works, especially with all of that wasteful kettle ball spending
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